McLaurin: 2020 success doesn't mean anything for WFT start

Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson

Even though it's his third season in the NFL, the 2021 campaign will be the first where Terry McLaurin is on a team with positive expectations. 

That's what happens when you make the playoffs the year before with a young, unproven roster and make significant upgrades on the offensive side of the ball. However, as McLaurin explained on The Washington Football Talk podcast, Washington can't expect to begin the 2021 season exactly how they ended last year as a playoff team going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady. 

"One thing that struck me about what Coach Rivera was saying was, you can't expect to start where you ended off," McLaurin said. "I think a lot of people are enamored that we made the playoffs last year and nobody expected us to make it and things of that nature. While that is great and we are happy that we did that, we feel like we're scratching the surface of what we could become."

Unlike McLaurin, Rivera has been in this position before. He took the Panthers to the playoffs four times, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. He knows how to get his team ready to perform to their potential regardless of expectations, and that's what he'll try to do this season. 

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It appears that his No. 1 receiver has fully absorbed his message ahead of a pivotal season for the franchise. 

"Just because we had that success last year doesn't guarantee that we're gonna have that success this year," McLaurin said. "When he said that, it struck me because you've got to take that Day 1 approach. If you think you're going to start off [as] that playoff team, that team that has a hot defense and the offense is coming around making plays, then if you just think that's going to happen without putting the work in, then you're fooling yourself."

And the best way to keep a team focused on improving rather than the past? Competition, and it sure sounds like there's been plenty to go around during practice. 

"I think we've done a really good job competing this offseason as a team," McLaurin said. "We've been attacking each other, offense-defense. [The] offense won some days, defense won some days. Special teams is working their butt off, so I think we have a really competitive group that's looking out there and is trying to start fast. I think that can really help us this year, starting fast and finish stronger in the fourth quarter. If we can do that and win the field position battle, I think we'll be in a lot of football games and that's all you can ask for."

McLaurin will be a big part of Washington's road back to the postseason as its top receiver looking to make the leap as one of the best pass-catchers in the league. Now that he's in Year 2 with offensive coordinator Scott Turner and there are more weapons around him, we could be in store for another big year from No. 17. 

"It's nice coming into this season and being comfortable in this system. This is my second year in this system so I'm really looking forward to what not only I can do in this offense, but what the rest of the weapons we have together and how this can open it up for everyone."  

Kickoff is set to take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Coverage begins with Washington Football Kickoff Live on NBC Sports Washington and the MyTeams app at 12 p.m. and Washington Football Postgame Live immediately following the game.